I received a comment from Encik Md Sha’ani bin Abdullah, Commissioner of SUHAKAM containing the media statement from the Chairman of SUHAKAM. When I received the notification I was inside my car along Jalan Bandar, and I hoped that it would contain something new. To be fair, this is what was sent. Let me thank Encik Md Sha’ani for his comment:
UNDANG-UNDANG TAHANAN PENCEGAHAN BERCANGGAH DENGAN PRINSIP HAK ASASI MANUSIA
Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (SUHAKAM) meluahkan rasa amat kecewa dan terkejut dengan penangkapan terbaru 13 individu di bawah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri 1960 (ISA) atas kegiatan gerakan militan di Sabah. Tindakan pihak berkuasa ini benar-benar mengejutkan dan sama sekali bertentangan dengan keputusan Perdana Menteri yang berani dan bersejarah untuk memansuhkan ISA serta pengiktirafan dan penghormatan terhadap hak asasi manusia serta perseimbangan antara hak tersebut dengan peraturan undang-undang dalam sistem demokrasi berparlimen negara – yang telah lama dinanti-nantikan dan amat dialu-alukan dengan sepenuh hati oleh rakyat.
Selaras dengan seruan yang telah dibuat sebelum ini agar undang-undang penahanan pencegahan dimansuhkan, Suruhanjaya menggesa agar pihak berkuasa membebaskan kesemua mereka yang ditahan di bawah undang-undang tersebut dan memberikan hak mereka kepada perbicaraan terbuka dengan diwakili peguam. Suruhanjaya juga menyeru Kerajaan supaya menghentikan penggubalan undang-undang yang membenarkan penahanan tanpa bicara dan agar menangani isu berkaitan keganasan di bawah undang-undang lain yang sedia ada; dan sementara pemansuhan ISA dibuat, tiada sebarang penangkapan akan dijalankan di bawah Akta ini.
“HAK ASASI UNTUK SEMUA”
TAN SRI HASMY AGAM
Suruhanjaya Hak Assasi Manusia Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
18 November 2011
There was nothing new. However, to be fair, I decided to post the media statement here so everyone could read it. Honestly, I was hoping for something new, for SUHAKAM as a body formed via an Act of Parliament, to advise the Government on the course of action that should be taken – i.e the Act(s) that should have been used to deal with terrorism. I was truly disappointed. The statement underscores my point in a previous posting that SUHAKAM is acting more like a non-governmental organisation, than a body to assist the Government and law enforcement agencies on human rights. When I say human rights, I do not just mean the rights of those arrested under the Internal Security Act, but also the rights of the majority to life, liberty and security of person as stated in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the Commission religiously upholds.
Let me make myself clear on one issue: I AM NOT AN ADVOCATE OF THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT for a simple reason: the Act allows the Minister to order the detention of a person or persons to a period of not more than two years, and may review the detention at the end of the period for a further period of not more than two years. That is given by Section 8 of the Internal Security Act. I would prefer the period of 60 days provided for in Section 73(3) of the Act, with the limitations set in Section 73(3)(a), (b) and (c) of the Act, but the order has to come from a High Court judge. This is what I hope to see in the Anti-Terrorism Act that will be tabled in Parliament soon.
What was offered to me on Twitter as a suggestion to be used against terrorism by a SUHAKAM Comissioner is the Criminal Procedure Code. In Section 28 of the CPC, a person arrested has to be produced without delay within 24-hours of his arrest in front of a Magistrate for arraignment. This 24-hour period, though, has its own definition in the Interpretation Act when it comes to the weekends and public holidays. This is something everyone needs to understand. If the investigating officer finds that he cannot conclude the investigation within the given 24-hour period, he may, under Section 117 of the CPC, apply for an extension of the remand order. The Magistrate will then decide if the remand period should be extended to facilitate investigations, and if so, decide on the number of days. At the end of the extension period, the Magistrate may grant further extensions but the whole extension periods cannot exceed fifteen days in total.
Here, my friends, I would like to ask you: would 15 days be a reasonable period for the police to investigate the suspect’s/suspects’ involvement in terrorism, and that is to include the network, both local and international, of the organisation the suspect/suspects belong to? What prevailing Act of Law, may I ask you, my dear friends, would allow the police to thoroughly probe and investigate the gravity of the case and network(s) involved?
(The following part in Italics was added at 3.15am, 21st November 2011)
To comment further on the suggestion by SUHAKAM in its media statement above that the Government should use other laws, for any law to apply appropriately, the evidence must fall within the parameters of the law. The Internal Security Act is still a valid law for terrorism, subversion, espionage and sabotage of certain kinds. Other laws can be effectively used if the evidence collected can be adduced in court. In most cases they can’t because witnesses are afraid to testify in an open court, and the police will not jeopardize the identity of their informants because it is not easy to replace a deep mole.
Whether we like it or not, in my opinion, the Internal Security Act is the prevailing Act of Law, for now, that would allow the police to nip terrorism before we get religious zealots representing whatever religious organisation, blowing themselves up, killing our family members and/or friends, in downtown Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown, during Christmas shopping rush period.
Think about it carefully.
The Internal Security Act is still valid, and it is still applicable. And the threat and danger that we Malaysians and expats living in our country alike face, is very clear and very present.